Castle Rock Season 2 First Reviews: Lizzy Caplan Kills in Iconic Role

Just in time for Halloween, a gory tale in the spirit of Stephen King that features one of the author's most beloved characters, Annie Wilkes.

by | October 22, 2019 | Comments

Castle Rock presented a cornucopia of Stephen King Easter eggs to fans when the first season premiered to Hulu in October 2018. The Shawshank Redemption, Needful Things, and Stand By Me were just a few of the author’s iconic works that were mined for the series — from co-creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, and executive producers J.J. Abrams and King himself.

Season 1 of the series (which is Certified Fresh at 87% on the Tomatometer with 76 reviews) followed the story of Henry Deaver (Andre Holland) who returned to his childhood home of Castle Rock, Maine after a mysterious young man (Bill Skarsgård) was found living in a cage underground, beneath Shawshank Prison. This odd discovery sparked a domino effect of terrible events throughout the town, establishing the inherent evil of the fictional town while providing a fun collection of genre nods for newbies and die-hard fans alike.

The goal here was to establish the King universe for the small-screen, adhering to the author’s extensive library of work — from short stories and novellas like The Body and The Sun Dog to his more in-depth novels like The Stand and The Shining — for inspiration. New characters and narratives breathed new life into the familiar genre goodies sprinkled throughout its initial run.

With season 2, though, it seems that Castle Rock has narrowed its focus on the master of horror’s work. This time around, the scope of the series will expand outside of the town’s borders to the Somali community of Jerusalem’s Lot — the small town featured in the vampire-themed Salem’s Lot. Tim Robbins, Paul Sparks, Barkhad Abdi, and Yusra Warsama are new to the cast this season, helping to expand this new storyline.

Most notable, though, is the character of Annie Wilkes (Lizzy Caplan) — a role which won Kathy Bates the Oscar in 1991 — leading the new season. How did the young nurse become the kidnapping psychopath, who terrorizes author Paul Sheldon (James Caan) in the Rob Reiner film adaptation Misery? These new episodes allegedly will set out to answer that question.

Here’s what critics are saying about season 2 of Hulu’s Castle Rock:

Castle Rock keyart season 2 (Hulu)
(Photo by Hulu)


Caplan is excellent as the psychologically deteriorating Annie Wilkes. She’s obviously heavily influenced by Bates, but she gives a fiercely committed performance of her own. —Liam Mathews, TV Guide

Caplan, who is in the unenviable position of following Kathy Bates’ Oscar-winning turn in the 1990 film Misery, does a remarkable job portraying Castle Rock’s reimagined Annie. —Kristen Baldwin, EW


Tim Robbins returns to the geographic proximity of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION but plays a man haunted by his past and trying to make amends. Barkhad Abdi gets his meatiest acting role since CAPTAIN PHILLIPS and nails it. Even Elsie Fisher shows her work in EIGHTH GRADE was no fluke as she plays the tormented daughter of Annie Wilkes. —Alex Maidy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason are intent on putting their best foot forward from the moment go. That means making use of Caplan and Fisher, but also Tim Robbins as Pop Merrill, Paul Sparks (Boardwalk Empire) as Ace Merrill, and Barkhad Abi (Captain Philips), as a criminal family threatening to tear itself apart over the construction of a new Somali mall in Castle Rock. —Alex Maidy, JoBlo’s Movie Emporium

Abdi and Warsama are both standouts in a Somali storyline that starts off intriguing and timely only to sputter a bit by the season’s halfway point. —Dan Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter


Season 2 fares a bit better. The show is still far too obsessed with trying to ape producer J.J. Abrams’ infamous “mystery box” formula, where only tiny bits of info are doled out in frustrating fashion. But the story is stronger overall, as is the cast of characters. —Chris Evangelista, SlashFilm

The effectiveness of not just the characters but the story itself is so strong and compelling that we don’t need any other references to King and his memorable characters throughout the rest of the season, with those possible nods likely only heightening the rivetting story that we already get to witness take place. —Patrick Cavanaugh,

Despite all its high drama, season two feels a little more conventional in its narrative, and that’ll likely make for a more satisfying story arc, especially with all the horror-fantasy elements to come. —Cheryl Eddy, IO9

Much like Season 1, this is a Stephen King mixtape, but the tunes are much better this time around. —Mike Fugere, CBR

Castle Rock season 2 premieres on Wednesday, October 23 on Hulu.

Adjusted Score: 91.109%
Critics Consensus: Driven by an unsettlingly compelling Lizzy Caplan, Castle Rock's second chapter opens the borders of its titular town without losing any of its creeping atmosphere.
Synopsis: In season two of Castle Rock, a feud between warring clans comes to a boil when budding psychopath Annie Wilkes,... [More]

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

vampires Star Trek Winners Ovation Netflix Christmas movies Oscars TV Fall TV science fiction Binge Guide Funimation Travel Channel dramedy Columbia Pictures X-Men MTV ITV binge Endgame dceu finale DGA Action psycho Walt Disney Pictures History Marathons FX on Hulu biography Sundance TV Pirates See It Skip It VICE SundanceTV The Arrangement Film Nickelodeon Super Bowl comedies tv talk dc Year in Review CMT Adult Swim Amazon USA Network Trophy Talk Premiere Dates spain concert Sneak Peek Martial Arts RT History Emmys Netflix YouTube USA Captain marvel crime drama asian-american cancelled TV shows zombies anthology Shudder Warner Bros. animated composers DirecTV transformers Pet Sematary toy story Sci-Fi Winter TV independent TLC Hallmark true crime Best and Worst video Film Festival Arrowverse E3 TCM Cannes FX Comics on TV TNT Disney Plus NBC GoT Mary poppins Food Network ABC 24 frames Pixar NYCC Infographic MSNBC christmas movies Reality Competition mutant aliens Tarantino psychological thriller Turner Classic Movies harry potter 2016 social media cooking police drama docudrama a nightmare on elm street Box Office cops Tumblr Teen Disney Channel OneApp SXSW Mudbound Western Photos TIFF Ellie Kemper Thanksgiving Fantasy Quiz Crackle joker IFC cancelled TV series comic spy thriller medical drama unscripted Disney+ Disney Plus elevated horror streaming hist quibi A24 Turner 2018 cinemax PBS The Walking Dead PaleyFest Kids & Family Creative Arts Emmys reboot E! Rom-Com Lionsgate thriller cats Comic Book Nominations theme song Trivia hispanic robots revenge game show Hallmark Christmas movies foreign cults casting Universal Stephen King rotten movies we love Marvel Studios Anna Paquin Pop TV Marvel Television Mary Tyler Moore BBC America Amazon Studios Reality Comedy Central Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Comedy Brie Larson A&E Tomatazos Set visit Podcast Acorn TV San Diego Comic-Con SDCC breaking bad Fox News The Witch Epix disaster 007 CBS Black Mirror First Look Bravo Star Wars 71st Emmy Awards CW Seed Red Carpet blockbuster adaptation Mystery Holiday Writers Guild of America political drama Grammys Apple crossover Musical President award winner Logo The Purge Certified Fresh zombie YouTube Red comics Cartoon Network slashers name the review witnail Video Games Starz parents canceled TV shows golden globes Emmy Nominations Awards Tour directors Television Academy Esquire FOX OWN Sundance universal monsters singing competition Lifetime Christmas movies ESPN Shondaland Ghostbusters Lifetime TV Land best screenings Trailer talk show HBO Max spider-man Britbox FXX Disney Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Holidays stoner spinoff children's TV Rocky 45 Sony Pictures LGBTQ movies Pop CBS All Access nature book Interview child's play MCU romance Song of Ice and Fire GIFs Disney streaming service indie canceled strong female leads facebook movie doctor who Superheroe WarnerMedia scary movies jamie lee curtis First Reviews ratings spanish language Animation supernatural APB crime Superheroes Classic Film discovery Women's History Month mission: impossible DC streaming service VH1 documentary Crunchyroll Freeform Election die hard Amazon Prime Video cancelled TBS AMC National Geographic 4/20 cartoon DC Comics Syfy Summer diversity crime thriller Christmas television screen actors guild werewolf richard e. Grant Paramount Showtime Watching Series Opinion Lucasfilm justice league Amazon Prime reviews TCA sag awards BBC RT21 Rocketman Awards Polls and Games dragons sports adventure batman ghosts Academy Awards Sundance Now Cosplay space dark BET criterion Biopics El Rey Discovery Channel WGN Baby Yoda Spectrum Originals Vudu what to watch cancelled television Apple TV+ Valentine's Day Musicals green book stand-up comedy Family TCA 2017 travel 20th Century Fox 2019 TV renewals anime chucky Country Tubi cars Elton John 2020 franchise IFC Films Apple TV Plus versus Countdown based on movie Hulu Paramount Network TruTV Rock Character Guide The CW politics GLAAD kids mockumentary New York Comic Con Black History Month technology Mindy Kaling Avengers sequel game of thrones Pride Month sitcom romantic comedy Spike YouTube Premium renewed TV shows Calendar miniseries halloween Peacock teaser war Chernobyl dogs Nat Geo latino ABC Family DC Universe CNN 21st Century Fox Mary Poppins Returns series Masterpiece American Society of Cinematographers blaxploitation festivals Hear Us Out Horror Heroines Dark Horse Comics Extras period drama HBO free movies historical drama natural history TCA Winter 2020 zero dark thirty boxoffice Marvel serial killer Schedule LGBT south america comiccon 2015 Spring TV Drama Toys Music 2017 YA